Welcome to another edition of Off the Shelf with MJ & Michelle! I’m joined, once again, by Soliloquy in Blue‘s Michelle Smith.
This week, we take a look at some recent volumes from Yen Press, Tokyopop, Viz Media, and Vertical, Inc.
MICHELLE: Wednesday’s child may be full of woe, but somehow I doubt the same can be said about what we’ve been reading this week. At least not my picks. How about you, MJ?
MJ: You’re absolutely right! I caught up with a couple of universes I’m particularly fond of this week. Shall I just jump right in?
MICHELLE: Jump away; the water’s lovely.
MJ: *Sploosh* Okay! Well, having complained just this week about the shortage of new manhwa licenses, I figured it was only fair of me to give some attention to one of my favorite currently-running series, SangEun Lee’s 13th Boy from Yen Press. This is a series that hooked me early on with its quirky mix of romantic comedy and supernatural oddities (TALKING CACTUS). Though it was a bit all over the place in its first volume, it found its feet pretty quickly and now, five volumes in, it feels wonderfully sure and comfortable in its strangeness.
This is a pretty eventful volume, filled with some serious revelations for several of its main characters, particularly heroine Hee-So and her friend/sort-of-rival, Sae-Bom. What really makes the romantic aspect of this series work is Hee-So’s unyielding personality. Anytime the series seems in danger of becoming sentimental or melodramatic, she brings it right back to earth like a giant bulldozer, ripping everything apart with a moment of brash honesty or blatant self-involvement. She’s a character who manages to be totally obnoxious and still incredibly likable. How can you dislike anyone who is so open and honest about her own worst thoughts and so transparent in her painful attempts at guile? Hee-So is like a cup of tepid water in the ceaseless desert of teen romance comics– flawed, but extremely welcome.
Also, a stuffed rabbit comes to life and chews out Whie-Young for giving him a crappy personality. That’s worth the price of the volume alone. …